The four finalists in UEFA’s two club tournaments-the Champions League (UCL) and Europa League (UEL) are now known and three of the four are from the English Premier League.
Arsenal failed in their bid to make it an all-English affair, but that is a minor part of the narrative.
Manchester City will confront Chelsea in Istanbul on May 29, while Manchester United and Villarreal will battle in Gdansk, Poland on May 26.
Money crucial for success
Since 2003, when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea for about $200 million from Ken Bates, the Russian billionaire has spent almost $2 billion on the London side even though he has not attended a match at their Stamford Bridge home in almost two years.
In the year of the pandemic, Abramovich authorised the purchases of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, and Kai Havertz for a combined fee of $270 million.
Manchester City, since the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, the club has spent about $1.6 billion on player recruitments. Pep Guardiola, the current manager, has spent about $930 million since he took over the reins in 2016. Juxtapose this spending with the austerity that has caught up with the legacy teams like Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Arsenal and we can understand why the European Super League was mooted and why the idea will continue to stalk all European stadiums.
Manchester City and Chelsea are in the UEFA Champions League because of the consistent level of their spending over the last 10 years. According to the book, Soccernomics, written by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski; higher transfer fees invariably mean higher salaries, and this means a higher quality of players.
Newcomers make their mark
The European Super League was ready to obliterate the football pyramid that makes the game difficult to predict [at least in some leagues] and would have sidelined the likes of Villarreal, whose budget is about $175 million for the 2020/21 season. Even though City, United, and Chelsea were a part of the 15 ‘Judases’; City have never won the UCL while Chelsea have only won it once. Villarreal have never won any European trophy apart from the defunct Inter Toto Cup.
Athleticism is now the most profound football skill
Just like Bayern Munich showed last season by blitzing everyone on their way to the title, this season has confirmed that the football athletic is the most desired specimen in the sport. The sight of N’Golo Kante sprinting past Luka Modric in the second leg tie between Chelsea and Real Madrid explains this in detail. Teams from Italy and Spain have found to their consternation their inability to keep up with the athletic grace of players from more frenetically nuanced football leagues like the Premier League.